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Ann Allergy Asthma Immunol. 1999 Nov;83(5):464-70.

Clinical aspects, epidemiology, and prognosis of atopic dermatitis.

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  • Department of Dermatology, University Hospital, Zurich, Switzerland.



This review article examines the clinical aspects, epidemiology, and prognosis of atopic dermatitis.


These are studies and review articles from textbooks of dermatitis and allergy in general, as well as more recent epidemiologic surveys published in specialist journals of allergy and dermatology.


Included studies meet the criteria of being a survey of the prevalence of atopic dermatitis published recently in a respected peer-reviewed journal. Particular emphasis is placed on those that examine both the prevalence of the problem and significant causative and associated factors.


Atopic dermatitis is frequently a severe illness that develops in early infancy. It can persist beyond the childhood years and is often found in association with significant respiratory complications. The exact pathogenesis is unclear but it appears that it has a complex immunologic origin. Early surveys lack the methodologic refinements of more recent data from the mid-1990s, including the SCARPOL study. Collectively, these point to a high current prevalence rate of 10% to 15%, a figure that has risen steadily in the preceding decades. The most common associations of atopic dermatitis are a risk of developing respiratory disorders, such as allergic rhinitis and asthma (40% to 60%), and a persistence rate after puberty (40% to 60%), which is indeed much higher than previously suspected.


A clear recognition of the various disease subgroups along with intervention studies that evaluate reduction of risk are needed before more precise treatment strategies can be devised.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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